Harran, also known as Carrhae, is an archeological site in present day southeastern Turkey, 24 miles (39 kilometers) southeast of Sanli Urfa. In its prime, it controlled the point the road from Damascus joins the highway between Nineveh and Carchemish. This location gave Harran strategic value from an early date. It is frequently mentioned in Assyrian inscriptions as early as the time of Tiglath_Pileser I, about 1100 BC, under the name Harranu, or "Road". After the Shupiluliuma-Shattiwazza treaty, Harran was burned by a Hittite army under Piyashshili in the course of the conquest of Hanilgalbat.
Harran is also mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as the place where Terah halted after leaving Ur with his family after Abraham made Ur's king Nimrod angry, a town on the stream Jullab, some nine hours' journey from Edessa (present day Sanli Urfa) in Turkey. The Yahwistic writer (Genesis 27:43) makes it the home of Laban and connects it with Isaac and Jacob. But we cannot thus put Haran in Aram-Naharaim; the home of the Labanites is rather to be looked for in the very similar word Hauran.
During the reign of King Hezekiah, it rebelled from the Assyrians, who reconquered the city (2 Kings 19:12; Isaiah, 37:12), and deprived it of many privileges that king Sargon II later restored.
Harran was the centre of a considerable commerce, trading with Tyre (Ezekiel 27:23), and one of its specialities was the odoriferous gum derived from the strobus (Pliny, N.H. xii. 40). It was here that Crassus in his eastern expedition was attacked and slain by the Parthians (53 BC). Centuries later, the emperor Caracalla was murdered here at the instigation of Macrinus (AD 217). The emperor Galerius was defeated by the Sassanids nearby in 296.
Haran was the chief home of the moon-god Sin, whose temple was rebuilt by several kings, among them Assur-bani-pal and Nabonidus, and Herodian (iv. 13, 7) mentions the town as possessing in his day a temple of the moon. In the middle ages it is mentioned as having been the seat of a particular pagan sect, that of the Haranite Sabians, into the period of the Crusades, although it also possessed a bishop over a Christian community. In 1104 it was the site of a battle between the Crusaders and the Seljuk Turks. This city retained its importance down to the period of the Arab ascendancy; but by Abulfeda it is mentioned as having before his time fallen into decay. In the late nineteenth century, it was wholly in ruins.
This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.